It is with great enthusiasm that I provide you with my update on the 50th day as chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and executive officer of the university.

Since my arrival, I have spent much of my time learning about the campus and meeting with many members of the Dearborn community. By all accounts, we are collectively enthusiastic about embarking on an exciting new year.

A few weeks ago, at our convocation, I had the pleasure of welcoming nearly 1,000 new students and their guests to our special branch of the University of Michigan family tree, known as the Dearborn Wolverines.

In the hope of making my welcome a memorable event, I borrowed the far-fetched conceit of stringing seemingly unrelated songs together to weave a narrative. Using the Mamma-Mia trope, I delivered three important messages:

  • With the song Home, by Phillip Phillips, I tried to calm their nervous jitters by assuring them that, in the words of the song, “We were going to make this place your home…”
  • By using I Lived, by One Republic, I also challenged them to break out of their comfort zones, take chances and make every moment count during their time on campus.
  • Finally, but not surprisingly, the third song around which I structured my narrative was The Victors, building their pride in the legacy and power of U-M.

Other selected highlights of my first seven weeks on campus include:

  • Helping nearly 600 students move into The Union at Dearborn;
  • Meeting Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly;
  • Spending time in Jackson, Michigan, at our freshman, wilderness self-discovery camp;
  • Connecting with alumni and donors; and
  • Attending the UM-Dearborn veterans’ tailgate this past Saturday at the football game.

We have also launched searches for key leadership positions in Enrollment Management, Institutional Advancement, Human Resources and Police. Truly, this is a transformational time for our campus.

I would like to conclude with just a couple of points of pride:

  • First, with this coming year, PhDs offered on the Dearborn campus are now Rackham degrees.
  • Second, the president of Tunisia presented Associate Professor Marouane Kessentini, in Computer and Information Science, the country’s highest Distinguished Research Award. Dr. Kessentini, who presented his work to the Regents earlier this year, is the award’s youngest recipient.

Finally, one of my greatest pleasures in returning to Michigan is that once again I am able to close my remarks with the formidable GO BLUE!

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